Newtown Strategic Growth Area

Newtown Strategic Growth Area
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LOCATION: Virginia Beach, Virginia
CLIENT: Virginia Beach Department of Planning; Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

Virginia Beach is a sprawling car-oriented city on the Atlantic Ocean, beloved by many as a century old tourist destination. It is part of the massive Hampton Roads metropolitan area, a growing region due to a large military presence and ocean shipping. The development of new interstates through the city, I-264 and I-64, interrupted the neighborhoods of Virginia Beach and changed patterns of commerce. Today, leadership in the city wants to see strategic growth and redevelopment in designated areas along older corridors to increase densities, decrease car dependency and create more livable, walkable neighborhoods.

Ed Hamm, while with RHI, was selected to make a test of the new Virginia Secondary Street Standards with Virginia Beach’s recent form-based zoning ordinance for a portion of the Newtown Strategic Growth Area. Urban form, street hierarchies, road patterns, traffic and pedestrian use were examined. The planning program included the relocation and expansion of existing businesses and proposed additional commercial uses.

Virginia’s new Secondary Street Acceptance Standards have been established to require acceptable standards for on-lot and cross-lot connectivity, to provide opportunities for on-street parking and to limit excessive pavement widths. It has been proven “Skinny Streets” and greater connectivity make more walkable, vibrant, successful and resilient communities. The project was a designated Urban Development Area (UDA) and was completed with VDOT.  Newtown, an aging mid-century suburb, has a bright future with enhanced development opportunities.